Vietnamese blogger who vanished in Thailand jailed in Hanoi

Blogger Truong Duy Nhat, center, stands trial at a local People’s Court in the central city of Da Nang on March 4, 2014 file photo. Nhat fled to Thailand in January and applied for refugee status, but ended up in a Hanoi jail. (Vietnam News Agency/AFP)
Updated 21 March 2019
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Vietnamese blogger who vanished in Thailand jailed in Hanoi

  • Truong Duy Nhat fled to Thailand in January and applied for refugee status with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
  • His employer and family lost contact with him soon after
HANOI: A Vietnamese blogger who vanished in Thailand earlier this year is being held in a Hanoi prison, his friend and wife confirmed Thursday.
Truong Duy Nhat wrote weekly posts about politics and current affairs for Radio Free Asia (RFA) and last posted about the prospects for change in Vietnam in light of major anti-government demonstrations in Venezuela.
All independent media is banned in Vietnam and bloggers, activists and rights lawyers are routinely jailed. The one-party state has seen an uptick of arrests under a hard-line leadership in charge since 2016, with nearly 60 put behind bars last year according to an AFP tally.
Nhat, 55, fled to Thailand in January and applied for refugee status with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, according to RFA.
His employer and family lost contact with him soon after and he has not been heard from since. The UN said does not comment on individual cases.
Nhat’s friend Pham Xuan Nguyen said he visited Hanoi’s T-16 jail on Wednesday and received confirmation Nhat was being held there.
“I took Nhat’s wife to the jail yesterday. I saw the book the jail gave to her to register future visits,” he said Thursday.
“Inside the book, the date of his arrest was written January, 28 2019 ... it said that he was transferred to the jail the same day,” he said, adding that they did not see Nhat.
The blogger’s wife Cao Thi Xuan Phuong confirmed the account to AFP, declining to comment further.
His daughter Truong Thuc Doan, who lives in Canada, said she believes he was taken from Thailand against his will.
“It’s clear that my father did not voluntarily go back to Vietnam,” she told RFA.
The circumstances of Nhat’s return have not been confirmed by Hanoi and he has not yet been formally charged.
This is Nhat’s second prison stint. He was jailed for two years in 2014 for “abusing democratic freedoms” after writing blogs critical of Vietnam’s communist leadership.
Hanoi has in the past forcibly returned corruption suspects, including a former state oil executive kidnapped by Vietnamese security agents from a Berlin park in 2017.
Last year a fugitive spy was sent back from Singapore to face trial for divulging state secrets.


Bulgaria: Killer of TV journalist gets 30 years in prison

Viktoria Marinova. (AFP)
Updated 23 April 2019
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Bulgaria: Killer of TV journalist gets 30 years in prison

  • Media watchdog Journalists Without Borders had accused authorities of trying to impede the inquest and sweep the crime under the carpet

SOFIA: A 21-year-old man was Monday sentenced to 30 years in prison for the brutal rape and murder of a Bulgarian television presenter, avoiding a life term after confessing to the crime.
Severin Krasimirov, also Bulgarian, was arrested in Germany where he had fled after assaulting and killing Viktoria Marinova on October 6.
A court in the northeastern Bulgarian city of Ruse also ordered him to pay 450,000 leva (230,000 euros, $259,000) to Marinova’s family.
Prosecutors said the crime was “linked to sexual motives and had no links to the profession of the victim.” They added that Krasimirov was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the “brutal rape.”
The court said Marinova, 30, was killed “in a particularly brutal manner” after being grabbed while jogging in an alley along the Danube.
She was due to present a new program in which she pledged to unveil serious cases of corruption.
Media watchdog Journalists Without Borders had accused authorities of trying to impede the inquest and sweep the crime under the carpet.